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Edging towards the precipice | The Harmattan News



Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Professor Hope O. Eghagha

Nigeria is edging towards the precipice. The long history of scant regard for the rules of engagement has caught up with us. There is a loss of faith in the ability of Nigeria to protect its citizens. There is despair. There is frustration. The managers of the federation take steps daily and carry out actions which threaten the existence of the country. Ensconced in the opulence of filthy power, they do not feel the pulse of the nation. If they do, they do not show it. Individuals have become more powerful than the country. Self-help has become the order of the day. The brutish state of nature which we escaped from is here.
Those who are in power are helping themselves with the national cake before the house crumbles. The anti-corruption mantra of the incumbent government is a joke. The party primaries offend our sense of collective dignity. The people are angry with the politicians in Abuja and the State capitals. But there is nothing they can do. They will still vote for the clowns in 2023! Some have taken their share of the national delegates at the party primaries. They have sold their conscience
Religion and politics have mixed to destroy the country. There is lip service to the ideals of religion. Religion has not defined life in daily encounters with reality. But it has become an ego bank. A fence. A wall. A protectorate is conveniently deployed to stress differently. It has not stopped stealing. It has not stopped corruption. With State funds, men can build Mosques and churches. The religions preach against stealing. Yet adherents steal funds to feed religion. It is odious. It is a contradiction. Looting the treasury is a dent in character. These characters go to the Mosque on Fridays, to the church on Sundays, and visit the Holy Lands on pilgrimage. Yet, when a man as much criticizes their proclaimed religion, they are prepared to kill.
The young man who boasted on social media that he murdered Deborah Yakubu played a script, written by the powerful men in the corridors of power. Disobey the tenets of the religion. But kill the next man who utters a word against what they hold sacred. It is barbaric. It is destructive. It is atavistic. Yet, governance, if it qualifies to be so-called, is all about blasphemy against the morals and ideals of the great religions. This is a paradox that the leadership class luxuriates in. thus, we have no reports of men who reject eating the stolen pie on account of religion. That is a no-go area. Paradise is preached. Paradise is believed. But the paradise of here and now created from pilfered funds at the expense of the lives of God’s own children are more attractive.

READ ALSO: Ondo attack: Tinubu donates N75m, seeks improved security

The federal government promotes a dangerous narrative. It proclaims a federation in words. But it practices an oligarchy of a sort. This oligarchic disposition is woven into ethnic status. Power belongs to us. There is a veneer of population advantage. But anyone who has lived in the north wonders where the huge population figures come from. The British who promoted the ascendancy of the north in governance helped to create the myth of a superior population. The successor government sustained the myth. But within the vaunted superior population is the existence of a minority group. This group has seized power. Ruthless in power acquisition, they are yet to learn how to deploy power to the development and growth of their own people. What is power for if it cannot change the circumstances of the people?
We are on the precipice. The journey to doom started long ago. Through wrong-headed economic and political policies, the rulers started the decimation of Nigeria. If the people had their way now, they would dissolve Nigeria. Perhaps what has somewhat held the nation together is the reluctance of state officials in aggrieved regions and areas to take on the federal government as Emeka Ojukwu did in 1967. Non-state actors have filled a vacuum. These non-state actors hold the elected and selected state officials in great contempt. In the north, Boko Haram, bandits, and Islamic terrorists terrify state officials. In the southeast, non-state actors control the first day of the week. The South-south once held in the jugular by militants is the only region free of control by non-state actors. Indeed, there is no guarantee that if another rebellion of the Ojukwu shade were to start today, there will be no national consensus for the rest of the federation to bring back the rebellious region. There is too much disenchantment with the terms of the federal union. Away to your tents is on the lips of most southerners, in and out of government. Who will bell the cat, appears to be the restraining factor?
Before the civil war of 1967, there was a dingdong between state actors and the federal government. But there was a patchwork going on. The back of the camel got broken after the coup and countercoup. It was a turning point. The centre could not hold. The arrogance which Abuja currently displays, the attempt to seize power in the north, to jettison rotation of power between the two main regions which patently suggests a rotation between practitioners of the two rival religions, is a threat to peace. To retain power in the north in 2023 is the equivalent of a coup against the people of the south. Through bulldozing and intimidating methods, the north could hold on to power. But the seed of splitting the nation along regional lines is going deeper and deeper into the soil of time. Let us not allow the heat in the nation to reach the breakpoint. No one will have a tea party if there is a conflagration.

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It takes no rocket science to surmise that we do not have an Army that can overrun Nigeria if there is widespread rebellion. Pushed to the wall, the people will have no choice but to go into martyrdom. It is not the way we should go. Yet, if we continue along the current path, the day of an implosion is just a matter of time. It will be inevitable.
So it was that a car that was parked by tourists in a park was swarmed by a troop of monkeys. They took control of the car and chased away the real owners. But they could not drive the car. A man who seizes power anywhere and fails to use it for the betterment of the people who are the ultimate owner of power is like the monkeys in the anecdote. Except we put the national car in the reverse and stop the descent into anarchy, the conflagration of 1967 to 1970 would be a party of jollof rice and fried chicken!

Professor Hope O. Eghagha teaches at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka.

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists



2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

A former governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose has insisted that the southern part of Nigeria must produce the country’s president in 2023.

Fayose, a two-time governor under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said this in a series of tweets on his official handle on Wednesday, pinning his argument on the party’s constitution.

“The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice, and fairness’,” Fayose maintained.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.”

Fayose, who contested the PDP presidential primary, lost out to former Vice President Atiku Abukar in the exercise held earlier this month.

He has been one of the strong advocates for a power shift to southern Nigeria despite the party Atiku from the northern region, as the party’s flagbearer.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who also lost in the exercise, had campaigned, among others, based on a power shift to the south.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, is fielding a southerner – Bola Tinubu – as its presidential candidate to honour the power-sharing deal called zoning between the north and south.

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees



Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

The senate has confirmed seven persons nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for ministerial positions.

The upper legislative chamber confirmed the nominees on Wednesday after they were screened by the “committee of the whole” chaired by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The ministers-designate will replace those who resigned to pursue political bids.

Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio and Emeka Nwajiuba are some of the ministers who resigned to pursue presidential bids.

The ministers confirmed on Wednesday are Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa Ibom), Ekuma Joseph (Ebonyi), Goodluck Nana Obia (Imo), Umar Ibrahim Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adewole Adegorioye (Ondo), and Odo Udi (Rivers).

During screening, Ikoh said as a way of tackling employment in the country, “technical” graduates can be job creators.

“On the unemployment situation, we need more technical graduates to do most of the things we are doing right now. If you are a technical graduate, you can employ yourself and employ others,” he said.

On his part, Umana said the country could boost its foreign exchange earnings with its free trade zones.

“On the issue of how to boost foreign exchange, I want to say that even the free zones platform is a veritable platform for this,” he said.

“The free zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange.”

Nakama said the federal government must be ready to make some compromise to end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“On tackling the issue of ASUU, my answer is that there will be leave of compromise. Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise and through this, we will able to solve these incessant strikes once and for all,” he said.

The remaining four nominees were asked to “take a bow and go” on the grounds of their experience.

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R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in sex trafficking case



R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in sex trafficking case

Fallen R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for using his fame to subject young fans — some just children — to systematic sexual abuse.

Through tears and anger, several of Kelly’s accusers told a court, and him, that he had preyed on them and misled his fans.

“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” said one unnamed survivor, directly addressing a Kelly who kept his hands folded and his eyes downcast.

“Do you remember that?” she added.

Kelly, 55, didn’t speak at his sentencing, where he also was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer and songwriter was convicted last year of racketeering and sex trafficking at a trial that gave voice to accusers who had previously wondered if their stories were being ignored because they were Black women.

“Although sex was certainly a weapon that you used, this is not a case about sex. It’s a case about violence, cruelty and control,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly told him.

The sentence caps a slow-motion fall for Kelly, who was adored by legions of fans and sold millions of albums even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.

Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct didn’t come until the #MeToo reckoning, reaching a crescendo after the release of the docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Kelly’s lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood “involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.”

As an adult with “literacy deficiencies,” the star was “repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him,” his lawyers said.

The hitmaker is known for work including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Allegations that Kelly abused young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor, and he later faced criminal child pornography charges related to a different girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008, and he settled the lawsuit.

All the while, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.

The Brooklyn federal court jury convicted him after hearing that he used his entourage of managers and aides to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation that prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing earlier this month.

Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

The accusers alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”

Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.

According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without disclosing he had an STD, coerced a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who emerged from underneath a boxing ring in his garage, and shot a shaming video that showed one victim smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.

Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. He didn’t testify at his trial, but his then-lawyers portrayed his accusers as girlfriends and groupies who weren’t forced to do anything against their will and stayed with him because they enjoyed the perks of his lifestyle.

Evidence also was presented about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he had impregnated R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a license falsely listing her age as 18; he was 27 at the time.

Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.

An earlier defense memo suggested prosecutors’ arguments for a higher sentence overreached by falsely claiming Kelly participated in the paying of a bribe to a government official in order to facilitate the illegal marriage.

The Associated Press does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted or abused, unless they come forward publicly. The women who spoke at Kelly’s sentencing were identified only by first names or pseudonyms.

Kelly has been jailed without bail since in 2019. He’s still facing child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.

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